Namtso Lake Overview

Namtso Lake is a mountain lake on the border between Damxung County of Lhasa city and Baingoin County of Nagqu Prefecture in the Tibet Autonomous Region, China, approximately 240 kilometers from Lhasa, which was born in the Paleogene age because of Himalayan tectonic plate movements. Namtso Lake is the highest saltwater lake in the world with an altitude of 4718 meters, also the second largest saltwater lake in China(after the Qinghai Lake).

Namtso Lake has five uninhabited islands of reasonable size, in addition to one or two rocky outcrops. The islands have been used for spiritual retreat by pilgrims who walk over the lake's frozen surface at the end of winter with food. The largest island is in the northwest corner of the lake.

Basic Information of Namtso Lake

  • Chinese Name: 纳木错
  • Meaning: "Namtso" is the Tibetan Language, which means "Celestial Lake".  Namtso is one of the "three holy lakes" in Tibet, which is the first god lake and one of the famous Buddhist holy sites.
  • Elevation: 4,718 meters
  • Surface: 1,920 Square Kilometers
  • Location: Located between Damxung County of Lhasa city and Baingoin County of Nagqu Prefecture
  • Coordinates: 30°30′-30°35′N/90°16′-91°03′E
  • Whether: Abrupt and changeable 
  • Opening Time: 6:00-18:00
  • Ticket: Peak Season(May to October): 120 yuan/Off Season(November to Next April): 80 yuan
  • Deepest Point: 120 meters
  • Recommended Visiting Hours: 1-2 days
  • Culture: Ancient Zhang Zhung Culture

Surrounding Attractions of Namtso Lake

1. Yingbin Stone迎宾石(Also called as Gods of Gate or couple stone of Namtso, which is the perfect foreground for photography.)

2. Gassho Stone合掌石(Also called parents stone, which is the incarnation of Nyainqentanglha Range and Namtso Lake according to a legend)

3. Good and Evil Hole善恶洞(a warning bell by Buddha)

4. Hilltop on Tashi peninsula扎西半岛山顶(With an altitude of  5,000 meters above sea level, the wind is very strong there)

Climate of Namtso Lake

Located in a semi-humid and semi-arid transition zone, Namtso Lake is abundant in the light, heat and water resources with low air pressure. With an elevation of 4718 meters above sea level, the weather and climate is quite different from Lhasa. Namtso Lake is embraced by snow all the year round with harsh climate.

The most distinctive feature of the lake climate may be the extremely huge temperature difference between day and night. From January to April and from November to December, travelers can not go to Namtso Lake, because it is frozen and the mountain pass is closed at that time.

Travel Tips of Namtso Lake

Best Time to Visit

The road to Namtso is closed from December to March because of the bad weather. From January to April and November to December, Namtso will be covered with snow and closed for visiting. So the best time to travel to Namtso Lake is from June to September with warmer weather and higher oxygen content.

Avoid High Altitude Reaction

1. With the high altitude of about 5000 meters, the weather is changeable and the temperature difference is large between day and night at Namtso Lake, you'd better bring some warm clothes and shoes, cold medicine and medicine for altitude sickness. Besides, remember to bring sun cream, sunglasses and other sunscreen products with you because of strong solar radiation in the daytime.

2. Meanwhile, please do not act and move too fast even though you're taking photos and enjoying the stunning views.

Natural Resources 

  • Plant resources: Lake is surrounded by vast expanse of lakeside plains, growing the herbs such as armoise(蒿草), moss, edelweiss(火绒草). It is a natural pasture and can be grazed all year round. Herdsmen in northern Tibet drive cattle and sheep here each year before the arrival of winter.
  • Animal resources: In the beginning of the summer, groups of wild ducks come to roost and breed the offspring. Around Namtso lake there are bears, wild yaks, wild donkeys, blue sheep, fox, marmots and other wild animals inhabiting the lake. It is rich in plateau small-scale fish.
  • Wetland Resources: As the highest lake in the world, Namtso has a variety of typical wetland ecological types, which depend on plateau lakes, including lakeside marshes, estuaries, lakeshore shallow waters, lakes wet meadows, rocky lakes, sandy lakes and etc. Due to its unique natural conditions, a large number of species that depend on wetlands are nurtured, including the national key protected animals and the autonomous region key protected animals, in addition to a large number of endemic species in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Although there are not many species of wild animals, the number of some species is quite large, such as geese and ducks.